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Villanova (15-10) at Connecticut (17-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: XL Center (16,294) -- Hartford, Connecticut. Television: ESPN. Home Record: VU 9-4, UConn 11-1. Away Record: VU 5-5, UConn 3-3. Neutral Record: VU 1-1, UConn 3-2. Conference Record: VU 6-6, UConn 7-4. Series Record: Villanova leads, 32-30.
GAME NOTES: The Villanova Wildcats have come to Hartford to take on the Connecticut Huskies in a Big East Conference showdown at the XL Center.
The Wildcats saw their modest two-game win streak come to an end in a 68-50 loss to Cincinnati on Tuesday night. They have dropped three of their last five overall to fall to 15-10 on the season and an even 6-6 in conference.
UConn is coming off a 66-58 upset of No. 6 Syracuse on Wednesday at the XL Center. The Huskies have won their last two decisions and five of their last six to improve to 17-6 overall and 7-4 in the Big East.
The Huskies have taken the last four meetings between these two teams, although the last two have been decided in the final possession. Kemba Walker made a short jumper in the final seconds to lift UConn to a 59-57 win in 2011, and UConn got the win last season in Philadelphia when Shabazz Napier sank a 30-foot shot at the buzzer in overtime.
Cincinnati clamped down on Villanova and pulled away from the Wildcats in a double-digit win on Tuesday night. The Wildcats were paced by JayVaughn Pinkston with his 12 points and eight rebounds off the bench. The only starter to score in double figures was Mouphtaou Yarou with 10 points. VU has scored 60 or fewer points in a contest six times this season, and has failed to win any of those contests.
Led by three players averaging double figures for the season, Villanova has managed to rank ninth in the Big East in scoring (68.7 ppg), while logging the third-worst percentage from the floor (.417). Relying too heavily on one-on- one plays is a part of the offensive mediocrity as the team is next-to-last in the conference in assists. The Wildcats do play solid defense though, forcing teams to shoot under 40 percent from the field. Pinkston (12.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) is the leading scorer on the squad, although he has been used primarily to create a spark off the bench. Darrun Hilliard (11.4 ppg) and Ryan Arcidiacono (11.1 ppg) are the other two top scoring options, though the latter has been erratic (.341 field goal percentage) in shooting the ball during his freshman season.
Ryan Boatright scored 17 points for the Huskies as they downed sixth-ranked Syracuse earlier in the week. Omar Calhoun added 15 points and six rebounds and Shabazz Napier chipped in 10 points and seven assists for the Huskies. UConn was down one in the second half before Calhoun heated up from beyond the arc. He nailed three of the team's four 3-pointers during a 16-6 surge that put the Huskies up for good.
On the season, Napier (16.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.4 apg) and Boatright (15.9 ppg, 4.3 apg) lead the UConn attack. The pair are also pesky at the defensive end, as they combine for 3.7 steals per game. Calhoun (11.3 ppg) teams with them in the backcourt as an additional scoring option, while DeAndre Daniels (10.6 ppg) is the top contributor in a rather weak frontcourt. As a team, UConn is scoring 71.0 ppg and shooting 45 percent from the field. However, the lack of size up front has kept the Huskies to the second-worst rebounding average among Big East squads (32.8 pg).
The Wildcats are in need of a quality road win in conference, but they have been too erratic on offense. Expect UConn's excellent guards to give the young Villanova backcourt trouble, and for the Huskies to grind out a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Connecticut 66, Villanova 62
02/16 10:38:21 ET
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